Those who own real estate and have experience with homeowners' associations in the States know that they often come with their share of headaches. Collecting dues and making sometimes controversial financial decisions can create contention or even downright hostility among the members. As many expats live in gated communities in Ecuador, HOA's are a fact of life for many living here.
There are certainly many positives associated with belonging to an HOA. Pooling money and resources can make it possible to hire gardener's, maintenance workers, and security personnel on a full time basis while that may not be possible for an individual homeowner. On the other hand, HOA's in foreign countries can present unique problems. If the owners who live there do not wish to take on the responsibilities of administrator and bookkeeper, an Ecuadorian is often hired. In our experience, Ecuadorian record keeping tends to be less than transparent, to say the least. Finding someone who keeps receipts, can create a budget, project expenses, and report results in a timely manner can be challenging. For these reasons, HOA's in foreign expat communities are at times disfunctional, and no one has a clear idea of how much money has been collected and where it has been spent. With that in mind, when looking for a property to purchase that has a homeowner's association, don't neglect to delve into the details of the HOA. Ask to see an accounting of the revenues and expenses to be sure that you are buying into one of the well managed homeowner's associations in Cotacachi. It will be time well spent.